The flock

Here they all are together: four years and sixteen seasons worth of sacas of this brilliant manzanilla by Barbadillo from the pioneering series that first started way back in 1999.

Despite my haphazard approach to collection, which frequently involves accidental consumption, thanks to a generous and very thoughtful gift from the guys at Barbadillo I was able to fill a couple of gaps in the flock and, with the most recent additions the family is as follows:

We are now at the point where their sheer is pushing the frontier of my ability to take their picture together – will have to have a word with my man Abel Valdenebro and, who knows, even maybe use a camera.

Anyway, if you haven’t had the chance to try them then I can’t recommend them highly enough. Even if it were not for the series, the ideas that they represent or the lovely animals depicted on their labels they would be worth seeking out for the most important reason of all: the liquid in the bottles. Always one of my favourite manzanillas, with just enough haybale and malty aroma and a deep inland, spicey juice and herb, salt and pepper character. But then there are the variations from saca to saca. Magnificent stuff.


Solear en rama summer 2017 – the Red-knobbed Coot

The real red-knobbed coot (focha cornuda) – so called due to a red knob on its forehead, as you can probably see, is in danger of extinction. The liquid version is facing a similar predicament. The population of bottles seems to be dwindling rapidly.

This one has a beautiful deep gold colour and a nose that is herbal and chamomile on top and yeasty and bread underneath. Then it has a zingy palate, that also has a bit of undercooked bread and even creaminess about it. Really gives it a nice shape – a punchy, intense start, lots of umami and vegetable richness and then a spicy, stinging finish.

Endangered they may be but it is hard to see a solution – they are just too appetizing.

La Bota de Manzanilla 55

I first tried this at the home of a friend and was blown away by the nose it had – I remember he had it in a burgundy glass when he came in and from a yard away there was no doubt it was a manzanilla, and a delicious one too. Funnily enough it came up in conversation on Monday night with another friend and then hey presto, without even asking I am poured a glass here at the bar of Media Ración.

It is still beautifully fragrant – just a hint of savoury sawdust and sea-salt under floral chamomile. (I didn’t smell it from any distance this time but on the other hand I have a bit of a cold.) Nice rich colour – maybe a shade darker when first released but that was three years ago now. Still tasty and zingy on the palate too – and a lovely elegant profile.

This is maybe a bit obsessive of me but with these Equipo Navazos wines, and the certainty they give you as to the date of bottling, I am always fascinated to look at the evolution. On that score this has actually evolved a little less than the fino I tried earlier this week – despite being somewhat older. Interesting stuff.

Manzanilla de Añada 2012 Callejuela – the first three botas 

Over the last week or so I have been rather guiltily sipping down these three little bottles. Guilty because there are so few of them around that in good conscience I really ought to share them. Guilty, too, because another section of my conscience was trying to save them for future verticals/horizontals/diagonals of the whole añada. So the least I can do is share my thoughts.

As I recently wrote in relation to Bota 1, that one is still lush and wine-like, polished and compact. Thinking back to when it was fresh you would say the fruit had gone down the mountain a bit in the last couple of years – from blossom to something more herbal – and it feels slightly broader in the beam, with more of the liquorice root that I have come to associate with Callejuela, but still a very enjoyable drop.

Bota 2 has more of an edge of salinity, a bitter, sharp mineral, sea air nose. Still has fresh, developing almonds on the palate but cut through with that slightly bitter minerality . A slightly bigger, saline volume on the palate and a fruitlike finish with a hint of bitterness (which to be fair I am only noticing in comparison to Bota 1). Flavourful and tasty, with a warm finish, not noticeably mouth watering.

Bota 3 looks quite a different beast. On the eye it is obviously darker than the other two, which if it isn’t a result of differences in filtering can only mean that something different has happened in the bota. A touch of oxidation – and there is just a hint of it on the nose and on the palate. There is an air of hay bales there – the acetaldehide of a true manzanilla – but some golden cooked apple too. Still a hot, dry mineral finish rather than a wet, fresh one.

Three terrific little wines and an education to drink them together. Three down and eight to go!

Manzanilla de añada Callejuela 2012 – Bota 1/11 

Just back from a cracking long weekend of autumn sunshine in the countryside which I enjoyed immensely. The only downside was that my rural wanderings meant missing out on the first tasting at the new premises of Taberna Palo Cortado (now to be found uptown in Calle Espronceda). And not just any tasting, either, but a tasting by the Blanco brothers, the genial owners of Callejuela, one of the most exciting of the “new” bodegas in Sanlúcar, and the source of one of my favourite little projects, the Manzanilla de Añada 2012.

Luckily, consolation was at hand in the form of little bottles of the aforementioned liquid – from the first, second and third botas – and given the circumstances it seemed appropriate to get them open and have another look at them.

Never one for half measures I duly opened all three but before getting into the inevitable comparisons I wanted to write a little bit about this, the first of them. It was and is a special little wine. It was the first “manzanilla de añada” that I ever tried, and it was the first wine to make me think about whether more flor is always better. Whereas now we seem surrounded by “añada” wines and unfortified palominos with a few months under flor, at the time this was something completely new and, to an extent, revolutionary. Indeed I remember opening a bottle of this on the first night of the Pitijopos and as I explained the concept – single vineyard, single vintage, static ageing, a collection of eleven botas – there was even a round of applause.

And I am glad to say the wine is holding up very well indeed. Still lush and wine-like, polished and compact. Thinking back to when it was fresh you would say the fruit had gone down the mountain a bit in the last couple of years – from blossom to something more herbal – and it feels slightly broader on the beam, with more of the liquorice root that I have come to associate with Callejuela. Still a very enjoyable drop.

Long live the Blanco brothers!






Manzanilla en rama La Gitana

In Territorio Era for the first time in far too long – nearly three weeks – and back in business with a nice glass of a classic manzanilla en rama. A rich gold colour, a  nice punchy sea-air and burnt almond nose and an intense, bitter and savoury, vegetable olive brine palate. 

Exactly what it says on the tin.

Manzanilla Solear en Rama Autumn 2017 – the Iberian Lynx 

The latest from my favourite series of manzanillas and you have to say it is a beauty: the Iberian Lynx. Rarest of the big cats and with absolutely cracking whiskers. It is a rerun of one of the first labels – from way back in 1999 – as a homage to the firefighters that helped extinguish this summer’s fire in Doñana national park, one of the Lynx’s last remaining habitats. 

And the wine inside is typically fine stuff.  More chalk and a touch less haybale and wild grass than I expected on the nose, and it also seems a little more oxidated on the palate. Still a flavourful, intense mouthful though – really quality manzanilla.